In reports in the Charleston media, we learn:
Cheryl Chow said: "The visit of both candidates last week, got us pumped up. We're just very excited about the quality of candidates and we didn't want to sit around and twiddle our thumps. We wanted to get out here and meet the community and find out what's going on at each of the sites." Charleston, SC - News - Seattle School Board Site Visit
"Chow said it was clear after both candidates visited Seattle last week that the district had two top candidates, and the board didn't want to lose either before completing the interview process. She canceled her spring break plans so the trip could take place sooner, she said...Chow said she didn't expect to uncover any information she didn't already know about Goodloe-Johnson but instead wanted to validate what she'd learned about her thus far, she said. Goodloe-Johnson's resume came alive during the course of the day, Chow said. The passion of her staff in their support for her and desire not to lose her was clear, she said...She also did well when interacting with the community and press in Seattle, Chow said. "It was great watching them in awe of her education knowledge," she said.
The Seattle board will meet Thursday so Chow and DeBell can brief them on their trip and review feedback from the community. It plans to make an offer to someone on Thursday or Friday, she said...On Monday, the Charleston County School Board voted to extend Goodloe-Johnson's contract to September 2009 if she doesn't get or take the Seattle job. A pay raise was not part of the offer." The Post and Courier, Charleston SC Charleston.net Stories
The first quote, from WCBD TV in Charleston makes me laugh. When my kids get excited about an upcoming trip, no amount of pleading or jumping up and down makes me move the trip a week earlier. I just don't buy Cheryl Chow's explanation for a minute. Changing the School Board's visit to the two cities must have been a logistical headache, involving rescheduling meetings (I hope) with busy, district and city leaders. Not to mention the cost involved with changing plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc. and the impact on the personal and professional lives of the School Board members traveling. No, the change in visit schedule wasn't just because they were so "pumped up" about the quality of the candidates.
So what is the real reason? The second quote gives us some idea: "the board didn't want to lose either before completing the interview process." Is Dr. Goodloe-Johnson getting pressure from her Board to make a decision about her contract extension? It doesn't sound like it. But perhaps she is putting pressure on the Seattle School Board to decide, using her contract extension offer from Charleston as leverage. Or, perhaps, one or both candidates are being considered as candidates in other superintendent search processes (Dr. Thornton in Oakland, maybe?) which is putting pressure on the School Board to make a decision.
At the end of the community interviews of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Dr. Thornton last Thursday and Friday, Seattle School Board President Cheryl Chow made a big deal out of soliciting feedback from the community: the people in the room, the people watching on television, and the people those people would tell about the interviews. She said there was plenty of time to provide feedback since the decision wouldn't be made until the 3rd week of April. Why the change in story now? And what message does that send about the importance of community feedback in the process. Does anyone believe that the survey data has even been tabulated yet? I guess this makes clear how important the community input is in the School Board's decision.
Does the School Board just want to hurry up and make a decision so they can be done with this process before public sentiment builds against both candidates? Because, after doing research and reading, I believe that given the choice of:
A) Dr. Goodloe-Johnson; and
B) Dr. Thornton;
the best answer is
C) None of the above.